TED Adds New Ways to Share Content With People Outside Long Beach Conference

By Alesandra Dubin March 8, 2011, 1:06 PM EST

Photo: James Duncan Davidson / TED

The TED Conference just wrapped its run from February 28 to March 4 at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. The conference, which annually draws some of the biggest names and thinkers in its namesake categories—technology, entertainment, and design—and realms well beyond, this year responded to community feedback and moved the conference one day earlier in the week, so that it started on Monday evening and wrapped Friday afternoon. This allowed travel flexibility during weekends on each end. The tickets for the annual four-day gathering in Long Beach (available with $7,500 membership) sell out a year in advance, but the innovators behind the tremendously successful conference have created an identity for the TED brand well outside the lines of its local home, and added new ways for nonattendees to experience the conference's trademark 18-minute presentations.
New to the program was an initiative from TEDActive, which isn't a pre-set conference, but rather an open-source version of the conference where attendees could shape the program and get involved by giving their own talks at TEDYou, hosting workshops, and proposing inventive activities. Under director Kelly Stoetzel, TEDActive took place concurrently with the TED Conference at the Riviera Resort in Palm Springs. The new initiative there was known as TEDActive Projects, and took the form of collaborative opportunities to brainstorm easy ways to address key issues in the world at TEDActive and beyond. The themes for the projects this year were education, mobility, social networks, travel, sustainability, and “public heart” (a chance to announce anonymously what attendees felt lost about, and receive advice and direction from other attendees). In all, there were more than 1,000 attendees in Long Beach and more than 500 in Palm Springs.

Also parallel to the main conference was TEDx, which refers to the independently organized local events that take place around the globe but are licensed under TED. TEDx is an offshoot of the brand that enables anyone to host a TED-style gathering, and reinforces the grassroots thinking behind the TED brand. It's now now done in 42 languages and 96 countries, with 1,403 past events and 812 upcoming. (Recent past events included TEDxAmazonia in the Amazon rainforest in November on the theme of quality of life, and TEDxManhattan on the theme of sustainable food in February.)

This year, 160 TEDx organizers from around the world (Colombia, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, the U.S, and elsewhere) attended TEDActive at the Riviera in Palm Springs, participating in TEDx workshops and dinners, and even took a bus to Long Beach one day to get a behind-the-scenes look at TED and take ideas back for their own programming.

TEDxLive is a new type of license for TEDx events centered around the live Webcast of the TED Conference; in the same way that organizers apply for TEDx licenses, they can apply for TEDxLive licenses. TEDxLive allows TED to make the conference more open and its impact more immediate and global. This year’s license permitted free access to the live Webcast of the entire second day of the TED2011 conference Webcast on March 2. 

As other parts of TEDx, Wael Ghonim’s talk was filmed at TEDxCairo and integrated into the main stage program in Long Beach the day after. Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani addressed the first TEDWomen conference in Washington, D.C., via satellite from TEDxDoha in December.

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